Trust nothing free

I was an early adopter of Live ID.  I was a Passport user before you could use your own email address; my first passport was sempf@hotmail.com.  After it went to Live ID I set up an ID at bill@pointweb.net.  I mostly use the hotmail address for personal stuff like xbox, and the pointweb account for professional stuff, like my partnership account.

After the 2006 Author's Summit I learned about the early beta of Office Live, and joined.  I created a new ID - webmaster@pointweb.net - specifially for the project, but I included bill@pointweb.net in the Office Live account so I could integrate my email.

Long story short, Office Live isn't very good.  It is basically the Google Apps, but it costs $20 a month and breaks a lot.  So, I went to Google in the summer of last year.  I moved my email, and cancelled my Office Live account.  All was happy.

Two weeks ago, I figured out that Office Live has been billing me for a year for the service I cancelled.  I logged into billing.microsoft.com and cancelled the service.  Then I got ready to write an email ripping Office Live a new one.  I went back to billing.microsoft.com to get my history ... and couldn't.  My webmaster@pointweb.net Live ID account was deleted when I cancelled the service.  "Well, that's OK," I thought, "I set up that account just for that reason."

But, they deleted my bill@pointweb.net account too.

I couldn't believe it.  Looked EVERYWHERE for a phone number - not phone support for Live ID.  Put in email tickets.  After 32 responses, I gave up.  All they did was say "check your password ... account is disabled ... check with Office Live."  Office Live, after 40 responses, told me to leave them alone.  Not their problem.

So basically, Microsoft screwed me.  My Mesh account, my Asure account, my Connect account, Messenger, MSDN, my Partner account, my Live Space, everything is gone.  Can't get it back. 

Notice something.  All of those services are free.  Microsoft doesn't care.  How could they?  I'm not paying them!  They are within their rights to delete any of those accounts anytime they want.

It was my fault for trusting them with my information.

We all do this alot.  Why pay for software if you can get it for free, right?  Free is cheaper, right?  Well, no, not when the REAL owner of the software has an attitude like this.

So, I need to not depend on free services.  I am getting out of Google too, because if they cancelled things right now, I would be toast.  Going back to SmarterMail for my email, or something like it.  Something I control; somethign I paid for.  I moved my blog back to a server I can touch too (thought I am using free software, but at least it is my build).

Remember this when you recommend something free to a client.  They will get what they paid for.

EDIT: Here is some Google fodder: Windows Live ID Error 80048826 means "Your Live ID is gone because the Live ID Database is hopelessly corrupt due to poor architecture and worse implementation.  We wish we'd used OpenID too."

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Bill Sempf

Husband. Father. Pentester. Secure software composer. Brewer. Lockpicker. Ninja. Insurrectionist. Lumberjack. All words that have been used to describe me recently. I help people write more secure software.

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